I remember my grandfather saying, “When I was a kid…” followed by any number of recollections that compared his childhood to mine. Then my father began to say it, and now I find myself saying the same thing. Remember when mom had to yell for us to come home for dinner? Now I text my kids that dinner is ready. Remember when we wondered if the world was going to end if the electricity went out? Now if the Wi-Fi goes down, my kids go into cardiac arrest. Times have changed, but kids are still kids; they want to have fun!

How can I help my kids experience fun? It’s not the same as when I was a kid, but the need is still there. It is my job to help them explore life, allow their imagination to run wild, and engage them in every part as an investment in their future.

EXPLORE

Elementary students love to explore new things more than any other age group. These are the years they are willing to try out new sports, arts, and activities. They talk about growing up in a star struck way where every job is a dream job. This is the time to help them discover, investigate, and experience as much as possible.

IMAGINE

It amazes me how a child can elaborate on fanciful adventures inspired by the way clouds are dispersed overhead; how a random thought can lead to thirty minute discussions on hypothetical situations with too many variables to explain. Oh, to have that imagination and dream! Embrace that creativity and hope that some of it rubs off on you.

ENGAGE

Life isn’t just about playing sports; it is about learning sportsmanship and integrity. Life isn’t about memorizing spelling words; it’s about problem solving and challenging intellectual capacity. As a parent, don’t just observe the sport or adjudicate the assignment; engage your child. Make every opportunity an opportunity to apply a value to your child’s life.

One of the best ways to begin the process is to involve them in community events such as THE JUNGLE. Put several hundred kids together with team leaders willing to spend the day engaged with each child, and you have a recipe for success. Add to this adventure elements that explore what has only been left to the imagination before, and students have a memory that will last for years.

Now in its third year, THE JUNGLE offers an unforgettable experience with music, humorous stage performances, and relevant lessons from the Bible. Kids discover elements of the African culture through interactive presentations, native crafts, and real-life animals. Add to that black light rooms, giant inflatables, and NERF battles. Kids will also develop friendships while being challenged to make good choices in the Jungle of life.

We want kids to discover basic truths that will change their life forever. We want kids to explore the world around them while learning how to make the wise choice. We want them to imagine a world where they can trust God no matter what and where people treat others the way they want to be treated. We want to engage kids where they are and help them see a better future. We want to see your child at THE JUNGLE.

Tony Kensinger is the Executive Kids and Family Pastor at Visalia First and the Executive Director of THE JUNGLE.

You can find out more at www.thejungleforkids.com